Sleazy, greasy, beautiful Babylon.
Iraqi was one of the most interesting cuisines to date. Never in my life have I eaten Iraqi food, nor had I even imagined what it might be like.
We arrived at Babylon in Footscray at about 7:30 on a Monday night. It was obviously not the busiest night of the week, but I didn’t expect that we’d be the only ones there.
After 5 minutes of trying to work out if we had accidentally chosen a takeaway joint, we were given the menu. This only made us more confused. Babylon is a simple kebab joint on the outside and an incredible insight into Iraqi cuisine if you’re brave enough to delve a little deeper.
Thanks to the Footscray food blog we knew there was more. I asked the man that seemed to be in charge if they served traditional Iraqi food and although I didn’t exactly catch all of his reply, he seemed positive and we settled on the fact that he would just feed us. The words “animal” “foot” and “head” were used, but I think my reaction to them made him realise we weren’t feeling tooooo adventurous.
Soon after this conversation, the plates started arriving. Plate. After plate. After plate. When we asked the waitress what each of the dips that she’d just brought us were, she said one was carrot, one was chilli and the other 4 she didn’t know. Hilarious. It didn’t matter at all as it just added more character to the place. Mind you she could have done us the decency of mentioning that the orange one was basically just liquid turmeric.
Our table fit for 8 was quickly filled up with dishes (there were 3 of us); far better than average rice, huge rounds of Iraqi bread, lamb curry(ish) which also could not be explained, baked chicken with some great herbs and spices and a whole baked fish on a bed of saffron rice – perfectly cooked and incredibly tasty. Unfortunately I can’t give much more detail about what each of the dishes actually was, as we didn’t get much detail ourselves.
Whilst we worked our way through the mountain of food, the waitress clocked off for the night (it was obviously home time) and the guy who we presumed was the owner went outside to fix something.
But when it came time to pay, he returned to the cash register and politely asked for a nice round $50. In total. $17 each.
Would I return to Babylon? If I was in the area and needed a cheap feed, definitely! Sure, the place lacked a little atmosphere (except for the strange and quite humorous pirate/underwater theme) but it made up for it with an interesting, tasty and generous sized meal.
If you don’t just want a kebab, be sure to speak up and ask for more. They’ll happily serve you some wonderful dishes and keep you guessing as to what they actually are.